Want to add more color to your wardrobe? This guide will cover how to incorporate yellow into your style.
If you’ve read my article on how to wear red, then you’re no stranger to adding some bold color to your wardrobe. In some ways, yellow can feel like an even more complicated color to style than red, but the thing to remember is that you have options. You don’t have to go for “pencil” or “school bus” yellow.
We’ll focus on some more subtle shades of yellow. We’re talking about everything from pastel (almost beige) to mustard and even to earthier tones (almost brown). You’ll want to consider how different shades of yellow look with your skin tone.
Paler and more olive-toned skin can get washed out with lighter pastel yellow tones. Darker skin, on the other hand, pairs well with many yellow shades because of the great contrast. I’ll make sure to call this out when we break down the list of yellow options.
The Psychology of Yellow
Yellow is an evocative color. It’s associated with arousing powerful emotions. On the positive side, that means it can be attention-grabbing and energizing. On the negative side, it can also be distracting and hard to look at for too long.
If you go for simpler and more subtle shades of yellow, you can lessen the effects of the color. The shade of yellow you chose can definitely get you noticed.
While this might seem complicated, just focus on how the color makes you feel. If you feel more confident and happier wearing a particular shade of yellow, then wear it!
When to Wear Yellow
As a general rule, when it comes to wearing a bold color, the bolder and more saturated the color is, the less formal it becomes. Also, bold colors that take up more visual surface area on your body will make for a more casual outfit than one small pop of bold color. That’s because bright colors attract a lot more attention than darker, more conservative shades.
If you’re not keen on the attention, keep the brighter yellow pieces to casual styling. Casual outfits give you more room for experimenting with color.
Consider introducing yellow to your wardrobe in small doses and slowly play around with the different shades within the yellow family. We’ll go through some of those options down below.
How to Wear Yellow
While anyone can just buy a yellow piece of clothing, the hard part is pairing it with other pieces in your closet. So, if you’re just starting to wear yellow, stick to neutral tones like blues, greens, greys, or warm earth tones like rusts and browns.
More saturated shades of yellow look great against cooler colors because of their contrast. They do well in casual outfits.
Pairing yellow with greys or muted earth tones is excellent for smart-casual styling. Keep this in mind when you’re picking out your outfit.
Now, we can break down yellow piece by piece. I’ll give you some ideas on what yellow items you can start wearing, along with a few tips for each.
Wearing a yellow top can be as easy as picking out a yellow tee and pairing it with jeans or shorts or using a tee/henley as a base layer underneath a jacket or overshirt.
Since, on its own, a yellow top is going to skew more casual, you can play with color contrast. Blue or navy shades are a great pairing option. When it comes to casual shirts, you can play with all shades of yellow without worrying too much about how formal it needs to be.
There are some great pastel yellow button-down shirts that go great for casual outfits. They’re traditionally a spring item.
Keep in mind that you probably won’t find a formal button-down that is all yellow. And if you do, don’t wear it to a formal event.
If you’re dying to have some yellow element to your dress shirts, try looking for some that have smaller yellow patterns or details rather than a solid yellow shirt. Keep the pattern minimal and not overpowering.
Shorts are another great way to play with bolder colors and patterns because they don’t take up too much real estate on your body.
You can keep that contrast high between the top and bottom, or you can keep the other pieces more neutral.
For the record, I’m counting more saturated khaki’s as the yellow family here as well. If you stay in the mustard/khaki family, your options are pretty open, and the pants become less jarring.
If you choose to go with more saturated and brighter yellow pants, make sure to balance out your outfit with some more neutral-colored pieces.
A louder yellow is going to be more informal, but if you stick to mustards and shades with more brown in them, you can smarten them up with some business casual pieces as well.
It can be hard to picture yellow being an appropriate color for fall/winter sweaters, but it can work!
Here, I paired the sweater with lighter denim and toned it down with the trucker jacket. You can also choose some darker accompanying pieces like navy denim or even burgundy.
Another great way to add yellow to your wardrobe is through your shoes.
Try some athletic or casual shoes to start. Think Nike, Vans, Adidas, or something of the sort.
If you’re itching for something a little more formal, a good way to do it is by adding a yellow vest.
A yellow vest offers great contrast and detail when wearing a suit.
This is a cardigan, but you could accomplish the same idea with a waistcoat or vest.
Testing out yellow in your ties and pocket squares is another way to add color to your more formal outfits.
The pocket square and tie should not match. Instead, try to ensure color harmony between them and the rest of your suit.
I personally don’t always subscribe to the rule that your socks must match your pants. I get it for black tux events, but otherwise, they can be a fun detail.
You’ll show off a little yellow right at the ankles if you cuff your pants or have them tailored with no break. It’s not overpowering but adds a good bit of personality.
A yellow accessory is, in my mind, the perfect way to add some yellow to any outfit. If you already wear jewelry, you can pick some more gold-toned pieces.
Wrist accessories are always a good way to keep your personality in your outfits. Since they’re generally more minor details, you can add yellow or bolder colors here.
Ready for Yellow?
Don’t shy away from wearing yellow. It’s a great color and has so much variety and versatility.
If you’re not totally comfortable with brighter versions of it, start small and subtle with mustards and other muted tones.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!